Early 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers
An early preview of the wide receiver position for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss Rebels
After suffering a gruesome season-ending leg injury as a sophomore, Laquon Treadwell has returned to the dynamic playmaking force he once was. Treadwell is a lethal combination of physical strength, impressive speed, while also possessing a high football IQ. The junior receiver’s 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame allows him to go up and catch 50/50 balls as he’s virtually unaffected by press coverage and physical play from defensive backs. An underrated aspect of Treadwell’s game is his awareness when the ball is in the air as he attacks the football at its highest point. His great hands and ability to come down with contested balls is similar to former West Virginia standout receiver Kevin White. In addition to his physical tools, Treadwell’s surprising speed makes him a threat in all three levels of the passing game. His quickness and ability to make people miss in the open field makes him a dangerous option in the screen and short passing game. Treadwell’s game-breaking speed, paired with his physical toughness and knowledge of the game, makes him likely the top wideout in the 2016 class.
Pro Player Comparison: A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals)
Corey Coleman, Baylor Bears
Whenever Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman’s name is mentioned among the best in college football, Bears head coach Art Briles’ fast-paced air-it-out offense is often credited. While that argument is understandable, consider that the Bears rank fourth in the FBS in rushing yards per game at 300.2 yards per outing. The spread scheme forces defenses to cover the entire width of the field — not allowing the defense to load the box — which yields an efficient running game between the tackles. Coleman has racked up more than 1,300 yards receiving and 20 scores this season. The junior wide receiver doesn’t have the most intimidating physical stature at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, but Coleman’s speed and athletic ability make up for his lack of physical tools. Coleman’s acceleration off the line of scrimmage allows him to break press coverage without it hindering his ability to run routes. The Bears receiver utilizes tremendous concentration and athletic ability to catch the football at its highest point. According to NFL.com, Coleman has recorded a 45-inch vertical and a 4.38 40-yard dash time. Coleman’s freakish athletic ability and speed probably makes him the second-best pass catcher in the 2016 class.
Pro Player Comparison: Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos)
Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh Panthers
Tyler Boyd is one of the best all-around impact players at wide receiver as he has the skills you want out of a pass catcher. Boyd has good hands, a strong frame at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and great speed, boasting an impressive 4.37 40-yard dash time, according to CBS Sports’ nfldraftscout.com. Boyd’s quick acceleration also makes him a threat on special teams and in the wildcat. Pittsburgh’s shaky quarterback play and run-predicated offense has not plagued Boyd’s production. During his three years as a Panther, Boyd has been accompanied by effective running backs — First it was James Conner and now Qadree Wilson. Conner rushed for nearly 1,800 yards and 26 touchdowns a season ago before tearing his MCL in the Panthers’ season opener against Youngstown State this year. In Conner’s absence, Wilson has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 12 games. In an offense with high-volume running backs, Boyd has been the go-to guy in the passing game. Boyd could be a perfect fit for the San Diego Chargers if he were to pair with underrated receiver Keenan Allen. Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers could use more receivers who can make plays after the catch. Despite Boyd’s great speed, he doesn’t run deep routes often as he primarily makes an impact on screens, crossing routes and fly sweeps. Whenever he touches the ball, Boyd quickly picks up yardage in chunks, doing most of his damage with his shiftiness and speed after the catch.
Pro Player Comparison: Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins)
Sleeper: Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State Spartans
In the second half of Michigan State’s season, Spartans receiver Aaron Burbridge has stepped up to aid Michigan State’s passing game. Burbridge’s speed off the line of scrimmage is an underrated aspect of his game. The senior receiver rarely drops the ball, serving as a reliable every down threat for Cook, who seems as if he’s been banged up almost every game this season, and the Spartans offense. Burbridge is not going to beat coverage with imposing physical traits, but he wins matchups with great hands and surprising quickness out of the breaks of his routes.
Other Notable Prospects
• Corey Davis, Western Michigan Broncos
• Michael Thomas, Ohio State Buckeyes
• Will Fuller, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
• Mike Williams, Clemson Tigers
• Travin Dural, LSU Tigers
• Josh Doctson, TCU Horned Frogs
• Braxton Miller, Ohio State Buckeyes
• Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma Sooners
• Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina Gamecocks
• Ryan Switzer, North Carolina Tar Heels
• Roger Lewis, Bowling Green Falcons